Walkarounds are an important part of ensuring safety and optimal performance in a workplace. Globally, accidents and safety issues are costing enterprises 1.25 trillion dollars every year. Regular walkarounds can help reduce this number while costing less than a safety audit.
Walkarounds are not usually as rigorous as a detailed safety inspection. They’re much less resource-intensive but are conducted much more frequently - daily if not more often. And unlike inspections or audits, walkarounds are conducted by company employees themselves.
Well-organized walkarounds can reduce accidents or unexpected equipment failures that can cost the organization in terms of unexpected downtime and loss of productivity.
In this article, we explore the importance of walkaround inspections as well as tips for conducting efficient and effective walkarounds.
Read to know more.
Daily walkarounds are an integral part of risk management for many organizations and in many industries. Even with extensive safety practices and regular inspections, walkarounds remain an important safety barrier. The idea is to improve safety and security without significantly increasing the cost. Audits and inspections are expensive and it’s not feasible to conduct them daily or even weekly. It is also difficult to conduct audits without significantly impacting productivity and slowing down the workforce.
While audits and inspections can catch safety issues or security vulnerabilities, the gap between inspections can affect their effectiveness. For example, a monthly inspection may reveal that a piece of equipment is not sufficiently lubricated. Without a daily walk around, there’s a possibility of that piece of equipment running on low lubrication for a month, causing increased wear and tear. A daily walkaround could have easily prevented this.
Walkarounds can also detect safety issues that may not be a daily occurrence. For example, if a surface is particularly slippery after heavy rains it can be detected easily and remedied immediately.
Daily walkarounds are crucial in many industries. For example, in the aviation industry, pilots are responsible for conducting walkarounds on aircraft before every flight.
They are also important in manufacturing and assembling units. For example, forklift operators are required to conduct a walk-around inspection before they use it.
Random walkarounds every once in a while are not going to be effective. You need a good strategy for managing the risks involved and the resources required for a walkaround, prioritizing what’s important, and what can be avoided. Here are a couple of tips to help you conduct effective walkarounds.
It is important to conduct walkarounds regularly. The frequency of walkarounds can be determined based on the risk involved. Regular walkarounds help organizations spot patterns over time and clearly notice when something is off. For example, a technician conducting walkarounds around a factory unit every morning at 10 will be able to spot if a certain tool is overheating or if a worker is not using protective equipment. Without a regular schedule, the person conducting the inspection won’t get a picture of what is normal and expected and what is going wrong.
Ideally, the same person should conduct the walkarounds at a given time, but this may not be possible practically. And it may be a good idea to rotate the walkaround schedules every once in a while. Employees on the same schedule for a long time may assume things and not conduct a thorough enough check.
TargPatrol offers a simple solution for conducting regular walkarounds; it allows admins to set regular walkaround schedules for employees. The app will alert the employee at the scheduled time reminding them of their duties. In case an employee is absent, the app will alert the admin to ensure a substitute has been arranged.
A strict plan or route is as important as having a regular schedule. Without a plan, a walk around is no different than just walking by. Walkarounds have to be carefully planned assessing the risks involved and considering the value of the assets and the time available.
High-value equipment with a very narrow operating range has to be checked more thoroughly than robust low-value equipment that can be easily replaced. For example, precision balances and weighing equipment may have to be checked daily and calibrated frequently and more thoroughly, but a casual inspection may be enough for drills or safety hats.
Based on this assessment, the plan should dictate the route the employee should take, the checkpoints they have to cover, the equipment and the parts they have to assess, and all the other tasks they should carry out. The plan should be in clear language without leaving room for misinterpretation. Even if the person conducting the walkaround is new, or someone who hasn’t done it before, they must be able to understand what is required of them.
Once again, you can use TargPatrol for this. The app lets you add entire walkaround plans which you can then share with your employees.
While walkarounds are usually considered to be something casual, a little bit of preparation can make them more effective. Before leaving, make sure you have all the equipment with you; this includes PPE as well as any other hardware you may need for inspections. A flashlight and a notepad (or TargPatrol app on your phone) are a must.
If you’re conducting this in a team, the team should have a briefing before leaving. Everyone should be aware of their responsibilities. It is also important to review the logs from the last walkaround to see if the issues are remedied or if there are any recurring problems. This can be done during the team briefing. Everyone should review their plans for the walkaround and make sure they have the equipment to perform all of their tasks.
Checklists are a useful tool for managing many different processes and are often used in many audits and inspections. They’re essentially a quality control tool and in this case, improve the quality of the walkaround process. Checklists are often used in maintenance and repair processes, manufacturing systems, vehicle inspections, and of course in quality control divisions.
With checklists, you are essentially establishing a standard for your walkarounds; they ensure that nothing is missed out. With time, the walkaround may get a little carefree and not thorough. Checklists ensure that this does not happen. It also creates a record of activities for future verification.
While creating checklists, make sure that the statements are highly specific. Instead of saying “check the motor”, it’s best to specify “check for fraying on the belt”, and “check for oil leakages.” Specific statements will make it easy even for a new person to conduct the walkarounds effectively.
Besides safety, one of the goals of walkarounds is to prevent unexpected equipment failure and downtime. And for this, it is important to keep a careful record of all the equipment in an organization.
During walkarounds, carefully log the status of all machinery. This includes any leaks, noises, vibrations, loose components, etc. It will also be a good idea to take pictures of equipment, particularly if any issues are spotted. This will help technicians to find out the issue and resolve it quickly. Without these logs, minor issues may get ignored for a long time until something breaks and create unnecessary expenditure for the company.
TargPatrol app lets employees log details about equipment during their walkarounds. It also allows them to take and store pictures which can then be reviewed by other employees as well as the admin panel. This will ensure that all the responsible parties are informed on time and remedial measures are taken.
The app also lets admins set expected values for the fields in a report. For example, in the case of robotic assembly equipment, admins can create a field for the amount of slack on a pedal or the volume of the lubricant oil available as well as an acceptable range for it. If the input value is outside of the expected range, the app will automatically trigger an alert.
Communicating with the employees is a must during walkarounds. As the people who use the different equipment and interact with them throughout the day, they will be able to spot issues quickly. Even if nothing seems amiss from a technical point of view, the operators may have noticed issues that are holding them back from being their most productive selves.
Communication shouldn’t be one way either. If the operators are doing something unsafe, are using potentially hazardous techniques, or not following safety protocols, they should be made aware of it, and the actions should be rectified.
While making the checklists or the plan for the walkaround it’s important to take regulatory requirements into account. There are many regulatory requirements surrounding workplaces and heavy machinery. And failing safety audits can get you severe fines and penalties.
Looking out for relapses in safety and security during walkarounds will build a culture of safety within the organization. Instead of trying to fix things up before an inspection or audit, safety becomes part of the workplace. Your employees will be aware of the safety requirements.
Since you’ll be using checklists for your walkarounds, you’ll also have a log of the safety practices within your organizations. This may come useful during audits or while getting insurance.
This is of course, fairly straightforward; it’s important to log and register any and all issues noticed during a walkaround. Even issues that are seemingly unimportant may create huge problems in the future and it is important that the relevant parties are aware of these issues on time. TargPatrol users can log different types of issues in the app.
It’s not enough to merely log the issue and fix it. It’s also important to analyze the records and look for any patterns. Maybe operators frequently avoid wearing safety hats, or motor belts need replacements more often than expected.
These patterns can indicate problems with the processes in your organization. For example, if operators or workers are not wearing their safety gear, they may not be aware of the risks. If the motor belts are getting damaged quickly, either the motor is not running properly or the belts are not of the required quality.
Analyzing these results will help you improve the conditions in your organization and save resources in the long run.
TargPatrol will be a powerful tool here. The app stores all the data and lets user build reports for any time period.